With the Yale College Council runoff elections set to begin today, students expressed mixed allegiances to presidential candidates Emery Choi ’07 and Larry Wise ’08, who say they will pursue different goals and ideals if elected.
Choi and Wise will face off in what promises to be one of the closest races in YCC history. Choi said his main goals are to bolster YCC support for student groups and increase student input on the Student Activities Fee, while Wise said he will focus on extending financial aid to middle-income families and improving Yale’s sexual assault policies. Undergraduate Organizations Funding Committee chair candidates Ned Mitchell ’09 and Hassan Siddiq ’08, who also competing in a runoff, have proposed different plans to raise funding for student organizations.
In order to win the runoff, a candidate must obtain a simple majority vote. In the original election, a candidate had to garner either a majority of votes or a plurality with a margin of 5 percent to win, but Choi and Wise came within a fraction of a percent of one another and Mitchell and Siddiq came within about a 3 percent difference, YCC Vice President Marissa Brittenham said. Brittenham emphasized that, even more than in the first round of elections, every vote counts.
“This election will probably be really close again,” Brittenham said. “All the winner needs is a majority, so that can be a difference of only one vote.”
The runoff candidates bring a variety of experiences and goals for the upcoming school year.
As YCC treasurer this year, Choi’s accomplishments include organizing Spring Fling and the Fall Show and founding the Committee for Campus Wide Activities. If elected, he said he will work to garner increased support for organizations and extracurricular activities, give student groups more say in the Student Activities Fee, and seek various measures to improve the dining halls.
As a YCC representative, Wise has focused on student safety. According to his campaign statement, Wise authored the YCC sexual assault resolution calling for improvements to the University’s response system, helped create the new nightly Blue Line bus route, and engaged the administration to increase the police presence on campus and improve lighting, among other initiatives.
Wise said he wants to “try to do almost everything” he can to improve the undergraduate experience at Yale, purusing “broad and feasible” ideals to support student life if elected. He said he will lobby to increase aid for families earning between $60,000 to $100,000 per year, publicly address “unsolved inequities” in residential colleges, and support the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgendered and Queer community with an administrator and increased funding.
“It’s important for the YCC president to know how to work with student organizations effectively to make progressive change,” he said.
Choi said that while he thinks Wise is doing a “great” job on the YCC, his opponent tends to focus on specific issues contrary to the direction of the council.
“Larry wants to work on setting the agenda for the council,” he said. “The president should not take ownership of one or two issues, but look at everything that is important to the student body and try to engage everyone.”
But Christina Tubb ’07 said she supports Wise because she thinks he will work effectively with others and focus on student needs.
“He’s a really good guy to work with because he’s so low-key and he follows up on everything that needs to be done,” she said.
The two candidates met last night and discussed their frustrations with the prolonged election, and the two even discussed the idea of conceding to preserve cohesion in the YCC, Choi said.
“The topic of one of us pulling out for the cohesion of the council next year came up,” Choi said. “But we decided that we both want to stay in the race.”
The candidates for the office of YCC president who did not advance to the runoff election are split on their runoff endorsements. Bill Fishel ’08 and Wells O’Byrne ’07 said they were supporting Choi, but Steve Fedele ’07 said he would endorse Wise for the office.
Fishel said he witnessed Choi’s effectiveness as a leader when he, Choi, and Wise were all on the Committee for Campus Wide Activities together. He said Choi diligently organized the CCA and oversaw every project it carried out while Wise “literally didn’t do anything.”
O’Byrne said he will vote for Choi because of Choi’s firsthand experience on the executive board and extensive work with the new Student Activities Fee.
“I think [Choi] has done a good job this year, and we need a president who was involved in creating and chairing the efforts behind the Students Activities Fee for it to continue to be solid next year,” he said.
But Fedele said he “wholeheartedly” endorses Wise.
“I live just two floors up from the guy,” he said. “He has demonstrated his good character multiple times with good words, kindness and good amounts of alcohol.”
The candidates in the UOFC chair runoff election also listed different achievements and goals.
Mitchell said he believes he is the best candidate because he is a full member of the UOFC while his opponent is an alternate, who only votes on decisions and represents student groups when a member of the board is not present. He said he has already secured “thousands in funding” and has “practical and achievable goals” for next year, such as increasing the maximum amount an organization may be awarded per semester by $200 and raising the individual item funding limit by $100.
But Siddiq said he understands UOFC issues more clearly than Mitchell and that his opponent has been getting support with unrealistic goals and promises.
“It is impossible to give that much aid to that many organizations,” Siddiq said about Mitchell’s plans. “If he’s elected, he will try to do this and UOFC will go bankrupt.”
Runoff election polls begin today at 9 a.m. and will close Friday evening at 9 p.m.